Canes Look For First Sweet 16 Bid Since 2000 Against Illinois

USA TODAY Sports

The #2 seed Miami Hurricanes take on the #7 seed in the Round of 32 for a bid to the Sweet 16. The game can be seen on TNT thirty minutes after the conclusion of the Florida Gators – Minnesota Golden Gophers game, at approximately 8:40 eastern.

After one full round of games, it would be tough to find very many teams that were more impressive than the Canes. Sure, Miami played a subpar opponent, but they were dominant from start to finish in one of the best performances of the season.

6:14 in to the first half, Miami only led by a score of 8-7. From that point on? The Canes went on a 32-12 run to end the half leading by 21. The Canes hit 12 of their 22 shots from beyond the arc, and shot 46% as a team overall. Durand Scott finished with a game high 21 points, and Shane Larkin contributed a team high 9 assists. Outside of the normal contributors, the Canes got big minutes out of Erik Swoope and Tonye Jekiri, who combined for 15 points on 5-8 shooting.

Illinois Scouting Report

In the Round of 32, the Canes will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini from the Big 10. The Fighting Illini are led by senior guard Brandon Paul, who averages almost 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

As a team, Illinois isn’t very effective in terms of shooting the basketball – they shoot only 41% from the field as a team, which ranks them 261st in the country. They turn the ball over on nearly 18% of possessions, 301st worst (correction: 47th best. My bad, y'all) in the nation. On top of both of those things, they don’t rebound the ball particularly well, with a rebounding percentage of only 50, which is 181st in the nation.

So why should we be concerned? Well …

Key For The Canes

Defend the arc. Illinois shoots over 20 threes per game. Sure, they only make 32% of their attempts for the season, but that’s not the point. This is the tournament. All it takes is one or two players to get hot, and all of a sudden, a game can be turned on it’s head. In the ACC tournament, Miami struggled defending the three-point line, allowing UNC to hit 13 of their 29 three point attempts. If that happens against Illinois, Miami will be in trouble.

Prediction

After struggling against BC in the ACC tournament, Miami has really stepped their game up, and are playing arguably their best basketball of the season right now. Illinois doesn’t have a dominant low post presence, and because of that, Miami should be able to focus their defense on keeping Illinois off the three-point line. I see Miami advancing to the Sweet 16 with a 75-63 win over the Fighting Illini.


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